Last Friday, the Alliance of Cinema, Television and Radio Actors (ACTRA), the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) and the Association des producteurs de film et de television du Quebec (APFTQ) announced they had reached a tenative deal for a new independent production agreement (IPA).
But later that day, the compromise was rejected by US-backed CFTPA members, who were concerned the new media aspects of the draft IPA would set a worrisome precedent for their negotiations with US guilds, particularly the Screen Actors Guild.
Many studios that frequently shoot in Canada - such as Twentieth Century Fox, Disney and Warner Bros - have Canadian subsidiaries with membership. Following a marathon negotiation sessions on Monday and Tuesday, ACTRA and the CFTPA reformulated the agreement to make the new media terms more palatable to those members.
Essentially, the IPA will differ according to whether the production is Canadian or US. Canadian producers will pay 3.6 per cent of revenues received from the use of productions on the internet. Made-for-new media productions will have a six-month on-line exploitation window in up to five different guises before a 3.6 per cent first-dollar revenue-sharing scheme kicks in.
US producers can choose the same path or another option: defer payment on the 3.6 per cent new media revenue share - with interest - until January 1, 2009, at which point negotiations with SAG will have been completed and ACTRA will have the option of 're-opening' the contract a year before its 2010 expiration to bargain for any improvements SAG might negotiate.
This 'Option B' will only be open to films backed by a major distributor; that is, an established entity that can make good on any retroactive payments.
At first glance, the compromise does not seem much different from what ACTRA had requested before the strike began: that the issue be deferred to arbitration. But CFTPA chief negotiator John Barrack said his members needed the rights to the material being shot now for the web. 'ACTRA was saying, 'Let's deal with it later'. But we have to be able to use this stuff in the new space.'
Barrack stressed that the 2009 re-opener clause was no guarantee of parity with any terms SAG negotiates.
The IPA also includes payment for library material repurposed for new media. Users will pay 3.6 per cent on first dollar to be tracked in a separate stream from conventional use.
More prosaically, performers will receive a 10 per cent increase in compensation over the new agreement's three-year term. Agreements were reached on rules on set, including issues of employment, harassment, child performers, and working conditions on set.
Spokespersons for Warner Bros, Walt Disney and the LA-based Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, whose chief negotiator Nick Counter was involved in the discussions, declined to comment. Twentieth Century Fox did not return a phone call.